Studies in the Gospel of Mark- Chapter 7
I. Kingdom Passion- Reality over Hypocrisy
A. Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”‘ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:1-13)
B. Jesus and his disciples were having a meal together, and evidently there was a contingency of Pharisees and scribes that had come to investigate this “new move of God” taking place in Jesus’ ministry. They observed that some of His disciples did not keep the traditional washings and ceremonial cleansings, so they questioned Him about their devotion to God. Herein lies one of the big debates of our day. Devotion to God is many times equated with our devotion to man’s traditions and not the Scripture. There is liberty concerning those things that are of man’s tradition, but if a person exercises their liberty in a matter there should be consideration towards those who are of weak faith and not to do something that will cause another brother or sister to stumble. However, when it comes to the Scriptural commands of conduct we should with fervency and passion pursue God’s heart as it is recorded in His word!
C. Jesus identifies the real condition of the Jerusalem contingency- Hypocrisy. Hupocrites-an actor under an assumed character (stage player) He goes onto say they honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. He gives them an example of their hypocrisy concerning how a man should treat His parents. It was an example of their tradition making the commandment of God null and void. It is a Kingdom Principle to possess Passion for the Reality of God’s word over the traditions of men. If we serve our tradition more than we are willing to obey God’s word we are self-deceived hypocrites.
II. Kingdom Passion- The Need for New Hearts
A. And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:14-23)
B. Jesus clarifies something for the sake of the Pharisees and those around Him, It is not what goes into you such as the food you eat that defiles koinoō-to make (or consider) profane (ceremonially) you, but it’s what comes out of the heart that makes a person defiled. Its not what people do to you or say about you that defiles you, but how you respond to what they do determines the condition of your life.
C. The ESV omits verse 16 which is a reiteration of a common phrase Jesus uses throughout His ministry. “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” Its almost as if Jesus is warning those hypocrites that to continue in their hypocrisy by holding the traditions of men over the commandments of God may make them deaf to hear truth when it is spoken.
D. No wonder His disciples wanted to be clear in their understanding of Jesus parable, they wanted to make sure they were hearing correctly. The real challenge facing all of us is the need for New Hearts! Being authentic and right can only come from a new birth made possible through the finished work of Jesus and is part of the message of the Gospel!
III. Kingdom Passion- Delivering Captives, Causing Ears to Hear, and Mouths to Speak
A. And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:24-37)
B. Jesus was now in a northern region of Israel and there came to Him a gentile. She begged that He would heal her daughter. He tested her by defining His mission, and she answered humbly and wisely so the Lord set her daughter free.
C. Back around the Decapolis, a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment was brought to Jesus and there He pulled Him aside to open his ears and loose his tongue. He literally touched his hearing and put his saliva in his mouth.
D. From these two miracles we see the God’s answer to Reality over Hypocrisy. Humbling ourselves to receive a New Heart and freedom from bondage enables Him to touch our hearing and He gives us His word in our mouths. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13)